A late-inning rally fell one run short as Hillsboro dropped a 14-13 heartbreaker to Halstead in the first game of their doubleheader May 5.
The visiting Dragons also won the second game, 10-5, to improve to 17-1 for the year while the Trojans fell to 10-8.
The first game was close from the start, tied 1-1 after the first inning and 3-3 through three.
After Halstead went ahead 6-3 in the top of the fourth, Hills?boro grabbed a 7-6 lead with a four-run rally in the bottom of the inning. Amy Bartel, Taylor Nikkel and Courtney Weber contributed base hits.
But Halstead rebounded in its next at-bat with five runs off of Weber for an 11-7 lead. Hillsboro came back with three in the bottom of the inning with Tara Heinrichs and Nikkel delivering run-scoring doubles.
A single run in the sixth and two in the seventh gave Halstead a 14-10 lead as Hillsboro faced its last at-bat. The first two Trojans hit into routine outs, but hope persevered when Sammy Koons drew a walk. Krista Reimer singled and Bartel reached on an error to load the bases.
Bri Loewen then delivered a clutch two-run double for a 14-12 score. Heinrichs hit a routine ground ball to third, but was safe when the Halstead first baseman couldn?t secure the low throw. Bartel scored on the play and Loewen advanced to third.
With the tying run 60 feet away, Nikkel lofted a fly ball to short right field. The Halstead outfielder rushed in and grabbed it inches from the ground to end the game.
Weber (5-2) went the distance for the Trojans, surrendering 15 hits and one walk while striking out one. Hillsboro finished with 15 hits as well. Nikkel went 3-for-6 from the leadoff spot with a single, double, triple and three runs batted in.
Both teams made six errors.
The outcome of Game 2 turned in the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Dragons broke a 1-1 tie with four runs off Franny Gottsch. The Dragons stroked five consecutive singles to fuel the surge. The Dragons scored twice more in the fifth to take a commanding 7-1 lead.
Hillsboro made it interesting with a three-run rally in the sixth. After the first two Trojans reached on an error and a walk, Bartel bunted for a base hit to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Loewen brought in the first run. A Halstead error opened the gate for two more.
But Halstead bounced back with three runs in the top of the seventh to restore a six-run lead at 10-4 heading into the Trojans? final at-bat.
Gottsch (5-6) absorbed the loss, giving up 11 hits, walking one and striking out four.
Hillsboro managed only four hits off of Halstead starter Aubrie Vansteenburg.
Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to complete its regular season with a doubleheader at Haven Tuesday.
Regionals are set to begin Monday in Marion. Joining Hillsboro and Marion in the field are Council Grove, Southeast of Saline, Herington-White City, Hutchinson Trinity and Sterling.
Matchups will be posted at hillsborofreepress.com when they are made available.